Deadpool and Nick Fury team up in order to take down Commissioner Gordon in the Multiverse of Madness. Oh, wait, that’s the wrong script. In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, AAA bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) has had his entire career go up in flames after one of his clients was assassinated, leaving him aimless, taking on clients beneath his ability – yet still keeping them alive. On the other hand, notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is set to testify against even more notorious dictator Vladislav Dukhovich, the fictional President of Belarus (ousted and held by the Hague). All Mr. Kincaid has to do is make it to the Hague itself to testify, and he is under the care of Interpol Agent Amelia Roussel (played by Elodie Yung). That she is Michael’s ex-girlfriend is barely a blip on her end, but Michael cannot understand that at the beginning of the film. Typical.
Nothing is going to stop this film from having a great time – you can practically see it in every scene, every quirky line of dialogue, and every hilarious contrivance. It all works together to build a fun, entertaining story – and we could always use something like that every now and again.
After her convoy is ambushed, however, Roussel (the sole survivor) turns to Michael in order to have him escort Darius to the Hague under the shadow of silence – as this is the world of intelligence, that barely lasts five minutes. Roussel doesn’t know who to trust outside of him, as anybody from Interpol could have been involved in the betrayal. She may not like it, but it’s the only option that she has, and she’s not going to let Darius die before he can testify in front of the Hague.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard understands exactly what kind of movie it is, a hard-R-rated comedy action film, and it wears that on its sleeve with relish. Bloody, gruesome deaths punctuate the film, and almost all of them are so over-the-top hilarious that it’s impossible not to be laughing as the film goes on. Humor is, of course, a subjective art, and comedy films have a tightrope with which to work in order to hit the right notes at just the right times. The PG-13 action-comedy has its place, but there are times when genuine death and destruction require that extra bit of edge. By relying heavily on its hard-R-rating, the film can be liberal in its use of gore in its many, many deaths that are delivered to the countless henchmen in the film. It also doesn’t shy away from crude humor or commentary, though it straddles a line on how far it’s willing to go with all of that. If it serves to deliver a punchline, gruesome or otherwise, it will go for it. Otherwise, the rest is up to you on how gratuitous its comedy all is.
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson play off of one another so well, that a sequel was greenlit almost immediately. Their banter and snarky remarks hit home because they are, in essence, similar characters. Michael Bryce may protect criminals and Darius Kincaid kills them, but they understand the gritty underworld of crime, one just throws caution to the wind and the other thrives on order and patience. It’s almost as if the logline for the movie included opposites attract, then remembered it wasn’t also a rom-com. One day we’ll get the combination.
Elodie Yung’s Amelia Roussel is working to figure out who in Interpol betrayed her and her people, clearly intent on killing Darius Kincaid and willingly using her team as target practice. Her bosses, Renata Casoria (Tine Joustra) and Jean Foucher (Joaquim de Almeida) both seem to be playing speed chess about the situation – trying to stay one step ahead of whoever it is that’s blown up their operation. It’s clear, though, that one of them is the mole – and that is who Roussel tries to identify throughout the film while ensuring that Michael and Darius actually do make it to The Hague.
Playing a major supporting role in the film is Darius Kincaid’s wife, Sonia (portrayed phenomenally by Salma Hayek who is having the best time of her life with her limited screen time). Considered Darius’ sole weakness, she’s being held in a prison in Amsterdam in order to twist Darius’ arm into testifying. Which, of course, is how everybody knows that now that he’s on the run/ on his way to the Hague, he’ll stop by there to at least get a glimpse of his beloved. This allows for one of the greatest chase scenes that I have seen in a long time, with clever use of Amsterdam’s red district, roadways, and errant construction projects to dispatch any number of nameless minions sent to kill them. The film’s willingness to deal out death like candied mints allows the film to carefully move from one locale to the next, as the duo tries to survive the trip to The Hague (how many times am I going to say The Hague in this, I’ll never tell).
Gary Oldman, as the film’s obvious villain, does not view himself as such. He makes some points that aren’t easy to dismiss, but because he’s a dictator, we certainly will. His crimes in the film are the centerpiece of the international community’s case against him in The Hague. Dukhovich had dozens of people killed in a village, which is what Darius Kincaid is going to testify about. However, many people he and Bryce killed between London and The Hague could not be reached for comment. The context, of course, is what is important – Darius Kincaid kills bad people, Dukhovich kills innocent people, Bryce protects bad people who do bad things – but he’s learning a valuable lesson throughout the film.
What it comes down to is that – the context of the situation. The film is not above wading through the shades of gray in order to have a good time. When characters justify their decisions, we can only base our opinions on them based on their actions. By the end of the film, their actions speak volumes, and it is incredibly clear which side of right and wrong we want to be on.
Sometimes, you just have to wipe away all of the blood stains from those shades of gray to see it.